Unified Optical Scanning Technology

Chapter 4.10.1 - Scanner Devices and Techniques: Phased Array Technology

4.10.1 Phased Array Technology

The broad topic of phased array beam steering merits significant attention because of its operational potential in many options of implementation, extending to some not-so-apparent variations. The positioning of radiation in the radio and microwave regions of the electromagnetic spectrum by driving antenna arrays with controlled relative phasing is especially familiar to the radar specialist [C&F,Sko].The adaptation of this technology to the optical spectrum, notably as radiated by lasers, was investigated in 1964 [Pro], soon after the invention of the laser, and continued to merit attention [Alp,Gra,Mey] through the early 1970s. The prospect of altering the direction of a laser beam with small adjustments on a group of radiators appeared very attractive. Beam steering with the actuation of arrays of mirrors was investigated by a research team in 1967 [Alp]. With the introduction of electrostatically actuated membrane mirror arrays in 1971 [Gra], and the programming of electrooptic crystal arrays in 1972 [Mey], operational utility was represented. Further attention was directed toward mirror array beam steering in the infrared region, where mirror reflectance exceeds the transmittance of even the exotic infrared materials, and where the longer wavelength imposes less burden on the sustenance of mirror flatness. With the availability of faster-acting materials and novel design variations, substantive advances have been achieved.

 

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